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Plug In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston

This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry. Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance and growth will continue....

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Generation Electric

1970 Electric Hot Wheels Toy

Sunday, May 26, 2019

My First Tesla Grin

Nine years ago today, my friends, Jesse and Jim, and I went to a Tesla Roadster Ride & Drive event. There was no Tesla store in the Portland area at that time. The Seattle store was hosting a traveling roadshow and luckily we had appointments to the event.

I had no plans to buy a one hundred thousand dollar plus sports car, but I sure wanted to drive one. The car did not disappoint.

Getting in such a low-seated vehicle was an unusual feeling. At that time, my daily driver was an electric pickup truck. As I maneuvered the car to exit the parking lot, the smooth quiet motion of electric driving was familiar. Entering the road, I mashed the accelerator. Here's where the sportscar diverged from my electric truck. I was shoved back in my seat and a grin, assisted by G-forces, spread across my face.

I'd experienced the "EV grin" from the smooth quiet electric acceleration that feels like magical propulsion. The Tesla grin was the next level of this experience. As we merged onto the freeway, I was again able to mash the accelerator. This car was fun! There was no delay waiting for an engine to rev up before zipping ahead. As changed lanes (to the fast lane of course), I was again surprised by the car's response time. I was apparently used to sloppy comfort steering. This car had tight sports steering. It seemed to start the maneuver as soon as I thought about it.

I left that day excited for the future of EVs and knowing that I'd keep an eye on Tesla.

Six years later, at the same location, I attended the "Meet Model X" touring event with my friend Gary. Below is a photo of Gary being interviewed by the local media.

The media came along on Gary's Model X drive. The Falcon Wing door blew me away. This was far more practical than the Roadster and it even had towing capability. Soon after this event, I ordered a Model X.

Disclosure: I am long Tesla

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Alt Fuels Maps Compared

Energy.gov has a site that shows Alternative fueling stations. If you're interested in alt fuels, it is interesting to browse. For example, let's look at Propane, Hydrogen, & Electric:

Propane (LPG)
DC Fast Charging (CHAdeMO, Tesla, & CCS)
DC fast charging clearly has the most robust network among these three. Hydrogen only seems to be viable if you are in southern California or Silicon Valley and don't plan to take road trips.

The DC Fact charge map is perhaps not a fair map since there is no car out there today that could charge at all three types, so let's split these each out into their own maps.



Tesla Superchargers

The CCS coverage is primarily on the coasts and growing quickly. The CHAdeMO network is similar. It may be similar because many of the charging installations have both CCS and CHAdeMO stations.

The Tesla map has clusters in California and the northeast US, but it also has a spread of periodic stations along the major cross-country corridors. This is what's necessary in order to make long-distance driving liable for all but the most fervent.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Road To 2 Million EVs on US Roads

The modern EV era started with the introduction of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf in December of 2010. Now ~8 years later, we've had many notable milestones:
  • September 2015: Global plug-in sales passed 1 million units
  • December 2016: Global plug-in sales passed 2 million units
  • November 2017: Global plug-in sales passed 3 million units
  • December 2017: Annual global EV sales passed 1 million units
  • September 2018: Global plug-in sales passed 4 million units
  • September 2018: U.S. plug-in sales passed 1 million units
Looking at the final milestone on this list (1 million EVs in the US) has led to the question of when will the 2nd million EVs be on US roads. After reading a thread of bickering EV fans, I decided to make some forecast models of my own. I've made two models, one optimistic and the other less optimistic but still with strong growth.

The first million US EVs took 7 years and 10 months to sell. For the 2nd million, the pessimistic model forecasts ~3 years, whereas the optimistic model forecasts less than 2 years (~21 months). 

Each of these forecasts is shown in the charts below. Which one do you think is more accurate? Or do you have a different forecast? 

The next couple of years will be interesting for US EV sales. There are several headwinds and tailwinds that will impact EV sales.

Let's look at the headwinds first. The EV tax credit will phase out for Tesla, GM, and Nissan. GM has recently stopped making the Chevy Volt. As a vanguard for this new era, it is sad to see the Volt retired. The US economy is the next potential headwind. Janet Yellen, Alan Greenspan, & Morgan Stanley have all stated concerns about the economy slowing in 2019 and potentially entering a recession in 2020. These are key years in our path to 2 million EVs. An econmonic slowdown would certainly impact auto sales, EVs included.

As for tailwinds, many more EVs will be coming to market over the next two years including the $35k Tesla Model 3 and offerings from Audi, Kia, Mini, Porsche, Volvo, and others. New vehicles brings more options and more buyers. We can also expect to see redesigns of the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and the Tesla Model S & X. These refreshes should bring more range, faster charging, and/or other new features. These new and refreshed models will spur interest from a larger portion of the car buying market.

How these headwinds and tailwinds play out, will determine if the trend follows closer to the optimistic or the pessimistic forecast. Either way, it will be an exciting ride as personal transportation goes through its biggest transition in 100 years.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Tesla Model 3 Center Cap Removal on 18" Aero Wheel

When you purchase a Tesla Model 3, you have several choices to make: battery size, paint color, interior... One of those choices is the wheels. Unless you upgrade them, the Model 3 comes with 18" Aero Wheels.

The aero wheels are great if you want to maximize range, but many find them visually unappealing. Luckily, for those that find the aero covers aesthetically-challenged, the aero cover pops off and the wheels underneath are not bad looking. To improve the look even more, you can replace the aero cover with a wheel cap kit. This kit covers the lug nuts and has a Tesla logo center insert. You can see the installed kit in the image below.

Model 3 Aero Wheel Cap Kit 
If you plan on taking a road trip, you might want to put the aero cover back on to improve your range. To install the aero cover, you must first pop the Tesla logo cap out of the center of the wheel. However, many people have found that the center logo cap is not easy to remove. This is good because you want it to be secure as you drive down the road and you wouldn't want someone to walk by in a parking lot and just grab your center cap.

So how do you remove the center cap? You can use a spudger, a screwdriver, or something else to pry the cover out, but this might not be able to squeeze in or it could scratch the wheel or center cap. The smart way to remove the center cap is to use a small suction cup that's designed to replace smartphone screens. These little suction cups are inexpensive and you can find them on eBay and Amazon.

Screen Suction Cup, perfect for removing the wheel center cap
You can see Mark Coughlan from The Tesla Life demonstrating the technique in the video below:

To purchase your own suction cup, click here: Amazon.
If you want the cap kit, click here: Tesla shop.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Tesla: What to Expect in 2019

What does Tesla have in store for us in 2019? We had a list of things to expect for 2018, here are a few from the list that they delivered:
  • Ramping Model 3 production to 5,000+ per week
  • Dual motor Model 3 deliveries
  • Sneak peeks of the Roadster 2020 and Semi as they start road testing
  • New Tesla mobile app with several new features
  • Performance Model 3 deliveries
  • Navigation route following for AutoPilot
  • Announcing locations and perhaps even breaking ground on one or two new Gigafactory locations (They delivered on one of these in Shanghai, China)
  • Delivering their 200,000 US vehicle in July of 2018 triggering the countdown to the start of the tax credit phase-out (They delivered in July, just as we forecasted) 
Tesla delivered the above and more such as when they surprised everyone with the introduction of the Model 3 Mid-Range in 2018.

There were also a few things on our list for last year that they did not deliver:
  • Standard range Model 3 ($35k variant) deliveries 
  • Coast to coast autonomous drive demo
  • Solar roof tile high volume deliveries
  • Megacharger (for Semi) deployments
  • Stop sign \ Traffic light recognition
  • HUD option for Model 3
Should we expect to see any of these leftovers in 2019? I think most of these are have a good chance of occurring this year. The HUD seems to be off the table since we have not heard any mention of it recently. 

What can we add to the list for this year? For this, I'll also borrow from last year's long-range view of ideas:
  • Reveal event for Model Y (where the Tesla pickup might be the surprise "one more thing")
  • Model S and X interior redesign to bring it up to snuff with the Model 3 minimalist design 
  • Model S and X moving to the 2170 cell architecture 
  • If Model S and X move to 2170 cells, this could bring more range, faster 0-60, & faster charging 
  • Improved voice commands that reduce the need to use the touchscreen for many settings
  • First deliveries of the Tesla Semi (low volume/beta) 
For our 2018 list, these were listed as coming in 2019 or later. Will they happen in 2019? Tesla has to bring Model Y, Pickup, Semi, & Roadster to market, bring Giga 3 online, locate Giga 4, all while growing the Supercharger network. That is a lot on their plate. Redesigning the battery and interior of the Model S & X effectively makes them new vehicles. They may want to stick with the current 18650 and interior for one more year.

As a side note: When the Model S and X move to the 2170 cell, do you think they will move to the "Standard Range/Long Range" badging, or do you think they'll stay with the kWh nomenclature?

A few new things to add to the list that we may see in 2019: 
  • When the standard range Model 3 is introduced, initially you'll only be able to order it with the premium interior and glass roof; this will keep the average selling price up and allow them to be sold profitably
  • AutoPilot Hardware 3
  • Model 3 leasing (This is one of Tesla's primary demand levers)
  • Supercharger V3 (and we find out that under ideal conditions the Model 3 can charge faster than 120kW)  
  • Another US price reduction in July 2019 as the tax credit halves again (perhaps $1000 this time)
  • Model 3 orders/deliveries start in Europe and China
  • European Gigafactory location announced / groundbreaking
  • The mid-range Model 3 discontinued soon after the standard range is introduced (after all it is called the Lemar (LEMR) b/c it is a limited edition)
For completeness, I'll include a few things I don't expect to see from Tesla in 2019:
  • Full self-driving
  • TeslaTunes streaming music service
  • Tesla Network ridesharing service
Following Tesla, there are always surprises. You never know when Elon Musk is going to launch a car into space, tweet about drilling tunnels, sell (not a) flamethrowers, or build a 50s style diner with food delivery via roller skates.

What surprises do you expect from Tesla in 2019?


Friday, January 4, 2019

Driving A Tesla Model 3 To The Moon - 11 Years Of Solar Production

  • If you could drive a Model 3 to the Moon, how much energy would it take?
  • The Moon is ~238,900 miles away
  • In a dual motor Model 3, it would take 69,281 kWh to drive that far
  • We have generated 69,460 kWh from our solar PV systems
  • A brief history of our EV ownership and PV installations

Eleven years after the PV on our rooftop came to life, it has generated 69,460 kWh of energy.

The graph shows that we have not one, but two PV systems on our roof. Our first system was installed in late 2007. This is a 4 kW array and it has produced 41,398 kWh. Our second array was added in 2015. It is an 8 kW array and has produced 28,062 kWh.

Why Solar?

In 2007, we purchased our first EV, a Chevy S10e electric truck. With the aged NiMH batteries, it only had 40 miles of range, but it was great. It was my commuter and errand runner. It was nice to have a truck for Home Depot runs. Our first PV system was installed later that year so we could power our EV with homemade electrons.

In 2011, we traded the truck in for a Nissan Leaf with nearly twice the range. Now even more of our miles were electrically powered and we started taking short road trips in the Leaf.

In 2015 we added more PV, tripling the capacity of our system.

In 2016 we traded our remaining gas car in for a long-range Tesla Model X. We were now a 100% EV household.  With 2 EVs in our household, we are no longer buying gasoline and all of our transportation is "fueled" from the grid and our solar panels.

In 2018 we traded the Leaf in for a long-range Tesla Model 3. We are now a 100% Tesla family.

We have switched to Time-Of-Use electricity schedule. The solar panels reduce our daytime use and we charge the cars overnight at off-peak times. The off-peak rate here is only 4¢ per kWh. Electricity was already a cheap fuel, this makes it even more affordable.

Enough Energy To Drive To The Moon

The energy our PV systems have generated is enough to power our Tesla Model 3 for ~240,000 miles. Based on the EPA rating, this is enough to drive around the equator nine and a half times or, if you prefer, the distance to the Moon. This is also more than 1 light-second (appropriately powered by light).